Cobi Jones

Soccer

Served as envoy

  • 2014  –  Burma
  • 2014  –  Brazil
  • 2015  –  Tonga
  • 2015  –  Fiji
  • 2021  –  Virtual

Cobi Jones is a Southern California sports legend, maintaining the title of the longest standing member of the LA Galaxy dynasty. LA’s “Original Cobi,” spent 15 seasons with the Galaxy, as both a player and coach from 1996 – 2010. A 2011 US Soccer Hall of Fame inductee, Cobi is a two-time MLS Cup winner (2002, 2005) with a storied international career with the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team. A permanent fixture with the team from 1992- 2004, he played in three World Cups (1994, 1998, 2002) and has the most international appearances for the Men’s side with 164 caps. He is also a 1992 Olympian. Prior to his MLS career, Cobi played overseas with Coventry City (English Premier League) and the Brazilian side, Vasco de Gama.

Today, Cobi is one of the sport’s preeminent broadcasters working with FOX Sports, where he was part of both the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and 2018 FIFA World Cup broadcast teams, both as a game analyst (2018) and co-hosting World Cup Tonight (2018-2019). He is the lead English language analyst for Fox’s coverage of Liga MX, Mexico’s top professional soccer league. He has also covered the Bundesliga, US Men’s National Team games, CONCACAF Champions League, the Gold Cup, and various FIFA tournaments for Fox. Cobi has been in the booth as the color commentator calling the LA Galaxy matches since 2012 for Spectrum SportsNet (formerly Time Warner Cable), Pac-12 Network, BeIn Sports, Next VR and he was also part of the 2012 NBC Olympic coverage.

A UCLA Hall of Famer and 1990 NCAA Champion with the Bruins, Cobi works closely with the LA2028 Olympic Committee, The Rose Bowl Institute, the LA84 Foundation, Cal South, AYSO, the US Soccer Foundation, and others. He represented the White House as part of the Presidential Delegation, attending both the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final in Canada and the 2014 FIFA Men’s World Cup Final in Brazil. He is also consistently part of the US State Department’s Sports Envoy.

In the Fall of 2020, it was announced that Cobi joined the esteemed ranks as one of the founding investor owners of the NWSL’s newest team, Angel City FC, brining women’s professional soccer to Los Angeles. Cobi joins sports greats Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Serena Williams, actresses Natalie Portman, Jennifer Garner, America Ferrara and other notable names as part of the ownership group that is moving the needle for parity and equality in sports.

In an effort to work toward racial equality, improve the gender pay gap and continue to help elevate American soccer on a global level, Cobi will work with US Soccer and the US Soccer Foundation to bring his passion and commitment to the beautiful game to another level.

Tamika Raymond

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2010  –  Malawi
  • 2011  –  Tanzania
  • 2012  –  China
  • 2013  –  Ukraine
  • 2013  –  Nigeria
  • 2014  –  Sri Lanka

Tamika Maria Raymond is an Assistant Coach for the women’s basketball team at the University of Kansas. Prior to serving in that role, Raymond played professional basketball in the WNBA for six seasons. During the 2002 WNBA Draft, the Minnesota Lynx selected Raymond with the sixth overall pick. She played her last season in the WNBA with the Connecticut Sun.

Prior to playing in the WNBA, Raymond attended the University of Connecticut, where she majored in interpersonal communications. She played for the school’s women’s basketball teams, which won Division I National Championship teams in 2000 and 2002. She completed her four-year collegiate career with averages of 10.6 points per game and 5.8 rebounds per game. She finished as UConn’s all-time leader in field goal percentage at 70.3 percent.

Raymond had a stellar high school basketball career in Dayton, OH. She was named the 1997 and 1998 Ohio Player of the Year and was selected to the 1997-98 Associated Press girls Division I All-Ohio high school basketball team. She was named “Ohio’s Miss Basketball” by the Associated Press.

Kelley Cain

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2014  –  South Africa
  • 2014  –  Rwanda

Kelley Cain is an American basketball center who last played for the Connecticut Sun. Currently she plays for Gure Belediye Woman Basketball Club in Izmir, Turkey.

Cain was a member of the USA Women’s U18 team which won the gold medal at the FIBA Americas Championship in 2006. Cain helped the team earn the gold medal by scoring 6.5 points per game. Her field goal percentage of 57.9% was second among all contestants and 1.75 blocks per game which tied her for first place. She was selected as the 7th overall pick by New York Liberty during the 2012 WNBA Draft.

Rachael Flatt

Figure Skating

Served as envoy

  • 2014  –  Russia

Rachael Flatt is a former American competitive figure skater. Flatt began skating at 4 years old. Competing in ladies’ singles, Flatt won the US Novice national title at the age of 12 (2005). She is the 2008 World Junior champion, a winner of four silver medals on the Grand Prix series, and the 2010 U.S. National Champion. In the same year, she was nominated to represent the US at the 2010 Winter Olympics and placed 7th.

Flatt completed the first step in qualifying for nationals by winning the 2014 Central Pacific Regionals. She placed first in both the short and the long with an overall score of 139.48. This was her first step in attempting to make her second Olympic team. On January 12, 2014, she placed 18th at the U.S. Championships and announced her retirement from competitive skating.

Evan Lysacek

Figure Skating

Served as envoy

  • 2012  –  Sweden
  • 2012  –  Belarus
  • 2014  –  Russia
  • 2020  –  Japan
  • 2020  –  Malaysia
  • 2020  –  Singapore

Following his figure skating Gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, Lysacek was chosen as the 2010 United States Olympic Committee’s SportsMan of the Year, and the winner of the James E. Sullivan Award as the top U.S. amateur athlete of 2010. On January 22, 2016, he was inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame. Evan Lysacek is the last American male figure skater to win an individual Olympic medal. He was a Sports Envoy in Belarus and Sweden in 2012 and Russia in 2014.

“With these adults, with young kids, with people who have nothing to do with skating whatsoever… our common language is sports and it transcends differences in language and differences in culture.” “I really feel like they absorbed the on-ice skills that I was trying to teach,” he said. “But also, I think they absorbed the message from what we were talking about a little bit and how that can help them if they continue skating, whatever skating will mean in their life, but it will also help them in everything that they do.”

Tamika Catchings

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2013  –  Thailand
  • 2014  –  United Arab Emirates

Tamika Catchings began her basketball career as a Forward at the University of Tennessee. During her four years at Tennessee, UT posted a 134-10 overall record (.931), collected four Southeastern Conference regular season crowns, three SEC Tournament titles, competed in four NCAA Tournaments, won the NCAA title in 1998, advanced to the NCAA Final Four in 2000 and made the 1999 Elite Eight and 2001 Sweet Sixteen.

Drafted No. 3 in 2001 by the Indiana Fever, Catchings helped the Indiana Fever advance to the playoffs 13 times in 15 seasons, while capturing the WNBA title in 2012 and advancing to the WNBA Finals in 2009 and 2015. In 2010 became the first player to earn a fourth Defensive Player of the Year award and is the only player to be named to the All-Defensive first team all eight years.

Internationally, Catchings honed her game internationally in China, South Korea, Russia and Turkey and won four Korean titles with Woori Bank Hansae (2002, 2003, 2006, 2007). Since joining the USA National Team in 2002, Catchings has aided the USA to a combined 58-1 record in major international events, winning four-straight Olympic golds, two FIBA World Championship golds, and one World Championship bronze medal.

Outside of basketball, in addition to hosting camps and clinics and raising money to enable disadvantaged youths to attend basketball camps, Catchings created the Catch the Stars Foundation in 2004. Taking advice from Dawn Staley, the foundation is targeted towards at-risk youths, and its goal is to provide both academics and athletics programs. In 2008 Catchings was awarded the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award.

Taj McWilliams-Franklin

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2014  –  China
  • 2017  –  Kazakhstan

During her senior year of high school, Taj McWilliams-Franklin gave birth to a daughter, Michele. Sixteen months after the birth of Michele, McWilliams-Franklin welcomed a second daughter, Schera, into the world. As such, she now had to find a basketball family that would accept her expanding family.

St. Edward’s University, an NAIA school in Austin, Texas, the city where her mother lived, would serve as McWilliams-Franklin’s new college basketball home, offering her a partial scholarship that she supplemented with loans. To sustain her basketball career while surviving her academic and everyday obligations, McWilliams-Franklin gave Schera up for adoption. Despite these stresses, McWilliams-Franklin excelled on the court, attracting the attention of Division I programs. Yet, appreciative of the opportunity, McWilliams-Franklin stuck with St. Edward’s. She was named 1993 NAIA Player of the Year her senior season.

In need of money to finish school and support her family, McWilliams-Franklin headed overseas. She played in Wolfenbüttel, Germany (1993-94), Contern, Luxembourg (1994-95) and Galilee, Israel (1995-96), all with Michele in tow. Hooping in far-flung locales did not strain her love for the game, instead confirming that basketball was the career she wanted.

While McWilliams-Franklin combined her commitments — to the game and to her daughter — her unconventional arrangement did not earn widespread approval, including from Michele’s biological father. He sued for custody, successfully raising questions about McWilliams-Franklin’s “fitness as a mother.” The parental rights he won did not last long, however, with McWilliams-Franklin regaining custody from Michele’s father after his one-month fatherhood experiment failed.

Soon thereafter, it seemed McWilliams-Franklin’s perseverance would pay off. A professional women’s basketball league, the ABL, was established in the U.S. in 1996. After participating in a combine for prospective players, she was selected by the Richmond Rage in the inaugural ABL Draft with the 40th overall pick. In Richmond, McWilliams provided a powerful post presence, complimenting star point guard Dawn Staley and versatile forward Adrienne Goodson to form a talented threesome that led the Rage to the ABL championship series, where they fell to the Columbus Quest.

This successful season did not secure the Rage a permanent place in the Richmond sporting landscape. The team was relocated to Philadelphia, giving McWilliams-Franklin another new basketball home. After an underwhelming 1997-98 season, the Rage folded early in the 1998-99 season. McWilliams-Franklin, thus, traveled overseas, this time to Greece. McWilliams-Franklin took another shot at making a roster in the WNBA by attending the 1999 combine. Despite her documented success in the ABL, however, she remained available until the third round, when the Orlando Miracle, an expansion team, selected her with the 32nd pick. In a fitting match, one of women’s basketball’s ultimate underdogs would join an unquestionably underdog expansion team.

Led by McWilliams-Franklin, the Miracle overachieved during their debut season after opening their inaugural season with two-straight road losses. The Miracle finally scored a win with McWilliams-Franklin converting a game-winning bucket with 21.7 seconds remaining. McWilliams-Franklin was named an Eastern Conference All-Star reserve along with teammates Nykesha Sales and Shannon Johnson. The Miracle finished 15-17 for the 1999 season. In 2000, Orlando would establish itself as a legitimate playoff contender driven by an ever-determined McWilliams-Franklin.

As the fulcrum of the Orlando offense, she turned in one of the most productive offensive seasons of her career, averaging nearly 14 points per game on better than 52 percent shooting. Fans showed appreciation for McWilliams-Franklin’s play, voting her in as an All-Star starter — an honor that confirmed the underdog had become one of women’s basketball’s elites. The Miracle also would earn a playoff berth and meet the Cleveland Rockers in the first round. The lower-seeded Miracle stole Game 1, powered by a perfect McWilliams-Franklin, who made all seven of her field goal attempts. Yet, the road woes that had bedeviled Orlando all season stalled a deeper playoff run. The Miracle dropped Games 2 and 3 of the three-game Eastern Conference Semifinals.

For McWilliams-Franklin, overall on-court success was accompanied by off-court stability. While playing abroad in Italy during the WNBA offseason, McWilliams-Franklin met Reggie Franklin, an Army sergeant. In December 2000, they were married, and three years later, they gave birth to a third daughter, Maia. With Reggie willing to serve as the primary parent, McWilliams-Franklin appeared to have found the balance needed to fulfill her hooping dreams and familial desires.

All the more, the precariousness of women’s professional basketball presented her with additional difficulties. After the 2002 season, the Orlando Miracle would become the Connecticut Sun, making Uncasville, Connecticut, McWilliams’ new basketball home.

McWilliams-Franklin would spend four seasons as a Connecticut Sun, a time that would cement the underdog’s reputation as a winning player. In 2004, Connecticut advanced all the way to the WNBA Finals, where they fell 2-1 to the Seattle Storm. In 2005, the Sun were even better, with the fantastic foursome of McWilliams-Franklin, Sales, Lindsay Whalen and Katie Douglas pushing to a league-best 26-8 record.

McWilliams-Franklin also collected individual honors in 2005, securing her third All-Star selection and being named to the All-WNBA Second Team. However, the ultimate achievement — a championship — eluded McWilliams-Franklin and the Sun. They again came up short, losing the WNBA Finals 3-1 to the Sacramento Monarchs.

The 2006 season followed a similar script. At 26-8, the Sun again had the WNBA’s best record. McWilliams-Franklin again earned All-Star and All-WNBA Second Team honors. Yet, more disappointingly, Connecticut fell to the Detroit Shock in the Eastern Conference Finals.

So, for all the success that McWilliams-Franklin had attained, she still remained an underdog because her teams were unable to break through and earn a title. To continue her quest for a championship, she would have to journey elsewhere.

Ahead of the 2007 season, McWilliams-Franklin requested a trade to the Los Angeles Sparks, with the opportunity to live and play in L.A. best meeting the needs of her family at that time. Although she had turned in another All-Star season, another cross-country journey was in her future. The next offseason, she was traded to the Washington Mystics. Then, at the 2008 trade deadline, the Detroit Shock sought McWilliams-Franklin’s services for the playoff run.

In the Motor City, all this movement would pay off, with McWilliams-Franklin proving the perfect booster for the Shock. After adding McWilliams-Franklin, Detroit finished the season 12-3 and, most importantly, won the WNBA title.

The Shock envisioned serving McWilliams-Franklin as a role player, supporting stars Katie Smith and Deanna Nolan. Soon after her arrival in Detroit, she told the Ocala Star-Banner:

For the past couple years, I’ve been on young teams where I’ve been expected to be the leader for a lot of young players. It’s been a nice change to be on a team where I’m just one of the veterans — where I have so many great players surrounding me.

However, during Detroit’s playoff run, McWilliams-Franklin exceeded her role. Then almost 38 years old, McWilliams-Franklin proved she still possessed the clutch gene.

In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, McWilliams-Franklin added 19 points and eight rebounds, pushing the Shock past the Liberty and sending them back to the WNBA Finals. In Game 3 of the Finals, she spurred the Shock to their championship-clinching victory, going on a personal 4-0 scoring run with approximately four minutes remaining to give the Shock an insurmountable double-digit lead.

In 2007, McWilliams-Franklin reconnected with Schera, re-establishing a relationship with the then-Shawnee State University basketball player.

Seemingly, McWilliams-Franklin might have decided to retire after the 2008 season, completing her unexpected, underdog career with a championship. Yet, as she asserted soon after beginning her professional career abroad, McWilliams-Franklin was determined to play as long as possible.

As an indication of her obsession with the game, McWilliams-Franklin continued to play abroad throughout her WNBA career, suiting up in Italy, South Korea and Russia. After another WNBA season in Detroit and single season with the New York Liberty, Cheryl Reeve, who had been an assistant coach with the Shock, lured McWilliams-Franklin to the Minnesota Lynx.

Ahead of the 2011 WNBA season, a rather unremarkable Minnesota team added two very different yet equally important talents — a seemingly guaranteed superstar in the much-heralded rookie Maya Moore and the 40-year-old, over-achieving basketball lifer in McWilliams-Franklin. Combined with Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen and Rebekkah Brunson, the Lynx coalesced into a championship contender.

In full ‘“Mama Taj” mode, McWilliams-Franklin provided sturdy, veteran leadership for an organization with a losing reputation. Her experienced play also proved pivotal. With McWilliams-Franklin manning the back line, the Lynx captured the 2011 WNBA title and appeared poised to add a second in 2012, until a GOAT and her pack of underdogs — the Tamika Catchings-led Indiana Fever — ruined the repeat.

Somewhat ironically, McWilliams-Franklin, the longtime underdog, decided to call it quits right after she was no longer the underdog, but a member of the top dog squad that suffered an upset. McWilliams-Franklin retired from the WNBA at age 41 after the 2012 season. She would play one more season abroad, joining Clube Amigos do Basquet in Spain in 2013-14. In total, her professional basketball career, which spanned over 30 years, was a testament to perseverance.

Ruthie Bolton

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2008  –  Saudi Arabia
  • 2013  –  Kazakhstan
  • 2014  –  Moldova
  • 2015  –  Bangladesh
  • 2018  –  Armenia
  • 2018  –  Georgia
  • 2019  –  Kosovo
  • 2019  –  Albania

Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and WNBA All-Star.

Scored over 2,000 career points, is fourth of the WNBA’s all-time 3-pointer list, and is the only player in the history of the Sacramento Monarchs to have her number retired.

First WNBA Player of the Week in July of 1997, a member of the 1999 First Team All WNBA, and a two-time WNBA All-Star in 1999 and 2001
The 1991 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year.

Played with the 1995-96 US Women’s National Team that compiled a perfect 60-0 record.

In four seasons at Auburn, she led her team to a combined record of 199-13, which included three Southeastern Conference Championships (1987-1989), four NCAA Tournament appearances and two runner-up finishes in 1988 and 1989.

She was named to the 1988 NCAA Women’s Final Four All-Tournament Team.

A 1st Lieutenant in the United States Army.

2011 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductee.

Ruth Riley

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2014  –  Morocco
  • 2014  –  Democratic Republic of Congo
  • 2014  –  Spain
  • 2015  –  Mozambique
  • 2015  –  Botswana
  • 2015  –  South Africa
  • 2015  –  Saudi Arabia

Person Info/Academic
-Born: August 28, 1979
-University of Notre Dame 1997-2001
-Summa Cum Laude, BA in Psychology
-Recipient of an NCAA postgraduate scholarship
-2001 Recipient of the NCAA Today’s Top VIII Award recognizing athletics, academic achievement, character and leadership
-First Vice President of the WNBA Players Association since 2005
-A 2010 inductee into Notre Dame’s prestigious Ring of Honor
-Inducted into the 2012 Capital One Academic All-America Hall of Fame
-Wrote a children’s book “Spirit of Basketball” for the WNBA’s Detroit Shock
-13 year WNBA veteran currently playing for the Atlanta Dream

In the Community
-Spokesperson for “Nothing But Nets” established by the UN Foundation to combat Malaria in Africa (#1 killer of children on the continent)
-Spokesperson for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry initiative.
-Co-Founder of Inspire Transformation (and NGO that does HIV/AIDS awareness & prevention through leadership and sports training in South Africa)
-4 time recipient of the WNBA’s Community Assist Player
-Appointed in 2009, by President George W. Bush to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
-Recipient of the Henry P. Iba Citizen Athlete Award in 2010
-Recipient of the 2011 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award presented by the WNBA
-NBA/WNBA Cares Ambassador for the NBA since 2013

USA Basketball
-2004 Gold Medal Olympic Games (Athens)
-1999 Silver Medal World University Games

WNBA
-2006 WNBA Champions (Detroit)
-2005 WNBA All-star (Detroit)
-2003 WNBA Champions (Detroit)
-2003 WNBA Finals MVP
-2003 No. 1 Overall WNBA Dispersal draft pick by Detroit
-2001 No. 5 Overall WNBA draft pick by Miami Sol

College Basketball Awards and Honors
-2001 NCAA Finals MVP
-2001 NCAA Champions
-2001 Naismith Player of the Year
-2001 Big East Player of the Year
-2001 NCAA Verizon Academic All-American of the Year
-2001 Big East conference Silver Anniversary Women’s Basketball Team
-three-time Big East All-Tournament Team (1999- 2001)
-three-time Big East Conference Defensive Player of the Year (1999-2001)
-two time Associated Press All-American First Team (2000, 2001)
-1998 Big East All-Rookie Team

Patricia “Ticha” Penicheiro

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2013  –  Angola
  • 2014  –  South Africa
  • 2014  –  Rwanda

Growing up in Portugal, Patricia “Ticha” Penicheiro was introduced to basketball by her father and brother when she was just five years old. Immediately hooked on the sport, Ticha spent countless hours on the playground courts proving girls can play sports too. All the teasing and blocking she received as a female playing with her older and stronger male counterparts groomed her for what was to come, which was more than she could have ever imagined.

Before long, Ticha had developed the “American Dream” and decided she wanted to come to the United States and attend a university. After being offered a few full basketball scholarships, Ticha chose to attend Old Dominion University (ODU) in Norfolk, VA and in 1994 packed her bags and left her country, her family and her friends to follow her dream.

From 1994 through 1998, Ticha grew as a woman and a basketball player while helping to position ODU back to a place of national recognition as a Top 25 team for the majority of her college career. Seeing her dreams come true before her eyes, Ticha was considered one of the top players in the United States. By 1998, Ticha was a two-time Kodak All-American player and won the prestigious Wade Trophy Award. Inspired to work toward her next career milestone, Ticha followed along with the first season of the WNBA in 1997, ready to make her move.

Upon graduating ODU in 1998, she was quickly drafted as second pick overall and headed to Sacramento, CA to begin her career playing in the best women’s professional basketball league in the world. For the next 12 years, California became Ticha’s home and before the Sacramento Monarchs folded in 2009, they were able to bring a WNBA championship to the city in 2005. Ticha’s next career move was to former rivals, the Los Angeles Sparks where she played two seasons. Then in 2012, she joined the Chicago Sky for her 15th and last season in the WNBA.

Through it all, Ticha is most grateful for the amazing friends she made and has created lifetime memories. “Being European, I loved heading to Europe and continuing to get my passport stamped visiting so many different countries through basketball.”

Ticha had a stellar professional career. Looking back, Ticha has humbly exceeded her expectations in moving across the country from Portugal to America as a young woman. Under her belt are three different WNBA teams, four-time All Star, a first team All League a few times and was able to leave her mark as one of the best passers in the league. Following such a successful and adventurous career, Ticha has finally retired and decided to follow her heart and become a sports agent, “becoming a sports’ agent is something Ive always seen myself doing because it will keep me close to the game I love and I will be able to help players make a smoother transition to the professional basketball world”, Ticha said.

Ticha is now the Director of Women’s Basketball at the Sports International Group (SIG).